We are all guilty of retreating to our own personal comfort zones. Who wants to do new stuff? Learning a new skill is hard, plus it will take FoReVeR to be good at it.
About a year ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to learn to play the marimba. Yep, the marimba. In case you don’t know what that is, here you go:
It took quite a bit of research to even find someone who teaches this rare instrument, but as luck would have it, I found a music school right down the street. I signed up for the (pricey) lessons and I was on my way.
I had visions of learning to play so well that I could wheel a portable version around town, and earn some extra cash pounding out tunes on the street corner. I also envisioned myself wearing a bear suit while playing, but that’s another story for a different day.
So the lessons began, and I had no idea what I had signed up for. Having zero musical background, the sheet music was like a foreign language, and the instrument was complicated (although in the scheme of things, it’s a pretty simple instrument to start with, or so they said).
Anyway, I sucked.
Turns out you need to practice. A lot. I didn’t have one of these instruments at home, nor did I plan on acquiring one any time soon, so I would have to go to the school to practice on theirs, which was just a hassle. And then I got super busy at work and there was just no time to devote to my new musical hobby.
It was pretty low on my list of priorities, once I realized that I would not be a great marimba player overnight. So I gave it up, sadly. But hey, I gave it a shot.
As a photographer, one of my recurring gigs is shooting piano recitals for the local music school. It’s mostly little kids up there, tinkling away on the keys. It’s incredibly cute.
But once in a while there’s a grownup — like an adult man or woman — nervously awaiting their turn to get up on stage and perform, possibly for the first time in their entire life.
I think to myself how incredibly brave they are, and what an awesome feeling this must be for them. I talked with a couple of them after the show — one was a veterinarian, one was a writer for a major magazine — so they are busy people. But they fit this into their schedule, got out of their comfort zone, and performed on stage.
None of them were great. It was their first recital after a couple months of lessons. But who cares. They were freaking superstars to me. They put themselves out there, and did their best. Bravo.
Some friends commented on my Facebook post, saying:
- “Oh! I so struggle with this! I really need to step outside my comfort zone.”
- “That would be glass fusing for me. Have had some very nice successes, with some major fails lately. Lots to learn!”
- “Carillon Bells for me!”
Very cool! People are stepping outside of their comfort zones, or aspire to!
But if you’re like me, you don’t like sucking at anything. It’s why I don’t ski, or partake in any sport that would cause bodily harm — to myself or others — or any sport for that matter. Because I suck at sports.
But I’ve also never aspired to be good at any kind of athletics.
Now art, that’s different. I’ve never been good at drawing, but have always been interested in photography. And I was pretty crappy at it when I started out. Read all about THAT here:
Thank You For Hanging My Awful Artwork, Grandma
It was such a loving thing, and I’m so sorry!
But I’ve devoted a lifetime of learning to my vocation/avocation, and I have turned out to be a decent photographer. There is always room for improvement though, and I will never stop learning and practicing.
So whether it’s starting a new career, learning how to crochet, or taking dance lessons — you’re not going to be an expert right away. But do not let that stop you. Even experts had to start somewhere. The journey is the destination, and all.
Be an adventurer. Don’t be afraid of sucking, because you will suck. And then you won’t suck as much. And then you’ll be good. And then you’ll be amazing.
Oh, and I have NOT given up on my dream of being a street performer — it’s just delayed a bit. So if you’re walking down Michigan Avenue in a few years, and happen upon someone in a bear suit, swinging the marimba mallets to the tune of “My Kind of Town”, well, throw me a buck or two.
Because I’ve been practicing my ass off.
And I’m a little scared, but I’m doing it anyway.
Thanks for reading :)